As Syrian refugees continue to flee their homes and make a perilous journey across hundreds of kilometres, a couple hundred people came out Sunday to show them support in Saskatoon Sunday.
Their signs read “Refugees are Welcome” and “No one is Illegal” as the large procession streamed through downtown from City Hall to the Service Canada Centre on 1st Avenue.
Among the crowd was Abdul Salam. The Syrian-native came to Canada with his wife seven years ago, but two of his cousins are in Germany now and his brothers are stuck in Turkey.
“My brother in Turkey fled the country because he doesn’t want to be part of the war. If he goes back to Syria he will be caught by the regime and be part of the army,” Salam said.
Salam is trying to bring his brothers to Canada and is looking for sponsors to help him.
He said watching the ongoing refugee crisis on television causes him to suffer as well, knowing his family is in danger.
Doha Kharsa came to Canada from Syria nine months ago with five of her children. Her husband and another son are still trapped overseas and she is not sure how to get them to Canada.
“They are in danger. Their lives are not safe. They are facing death every day,” she said after addressing the crowd at the rally.
Rally organizer Mahli Brindamour said they wanted show the world that Canada is a welcoming country.
Four times during the rally, individuals or small groups of people shouted insults at participants, telling immigrants to go home.
Despite the dissenting voices, Brindamour said she has high hope for Canadian support.
“The fact that we can gather more than 200 people in less than 48 hours is telling to what Canadians feel towards refugees,” she said.
Hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees have fled Syria into neighbouring countries in hopes of avoiding civil war, among many other issues within the country. More than 7,000 of them surged across Hungary’s western border into Austria and Germany Sunday following the latest erratic policy turn by Hungary’s immigrant-averse government.
Brindamour said she has met many Syrian refugees and immigrants through her work as a pediatrician. She said they want the federal government to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees to come to Canada immediately, above what they have already promised and in addition to the current limits of refugees from other countries.